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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Textile with Qur'anic Inscriptions
Late 17th–18th century
Silk and lampas weave

27 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Cathy and Vahid Kooros in honor of Peter C. Marzio

Arts of Asia

This vibrant silk panel belonged to a larger textile that was probably intended as a tomb cover. According to the Qur'an—the holy book of Islam—silk will adorn the dwellers of Paradise, and its use for funerary purposes may well have been meant to anticipate such a promise. The textile's elaborate calligraphic decoration, dominated by sequences of chevron bands of varying sizes, contains Qur'anic passages and the shahada—the Islamic profession of faith and one of the five pillars of Islam—which recites: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God."